Sakeena Suliman – Cii News | 07 August 2014/09 Shawaal 1435

A mother holds her son locked up in his bedroom. He is 16. It’s his summer holiday.

There is an en-suite and plenty of books in his room. If he gets hungry she’ll pass his meals through the window. She read somewhere that it will take two to three days for the withdrawal symptoms to wear off. Her son has been smoking since he is 12 and smokes a pack a day.

While her son’s physical side effects might wear off or be gone within days after his last cigarette, his cravings will continue to hamper her efforts of helping him quit. Cravings after quitting are listed as having the most negative effects when trying to leave smoking. This psychological factor might play an important role in her son’s relapse. And given he was “forced” to quit, the lack of his self-will, won’t make the chances of success great.

Addiction is enslavement to something. Sometimes the addiction is physical, that is your body begins to depend on the presence of a particular substance for its physical well being. But most addictions are coupled with a psychological addiction. And this is the case with smoking.

Nicotine in cigarettes is a colourless, odourless, naturally occurring alkaloid which is an organic compound produced by plants. It is in the same family as cocaine, morphine, quinine and strychnine. It is a super toxin and a fetal teratogen – an agent that induces or increases the incidence of abnormal prenatal development

The lethal dose needed to kill a 70 kilogram human being is about 60mg. Drop for drop it is deadlier than diamond back rattlesnake venom (100mg), arsenic (200mg) or cyanide (500mg). The average amount delivered into the bloodstream by smoking just one cigarette is about 1mg of nicotine. A one kilogram rat that smokes just one cigarette might not ever live to tell the story.

Nicotine is what causes the addictive “good feeling” that draws people to continuously smoke cigarettes or tobacco. This sought-after euphoria, sold in packs of tens and twenties, has many serious health and life hazards, such as lung cancer. These hazards affect not only smokers but those around them also.

Shari`ah has stressed the importance of being in good health to the extent that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) advised Muslims in all ages to strike a balance in eating and drinking so as to avoid any harmful effects on the health. That cigarettes contain many harmful ingredients such as carbon monoxide, tar and benzene vapor, besides nicotine, there is no doubt.

Doctor Salahuddeen Abdur-Rab An-Nabi, a neuro-surgeon in Cairo once said, “When a person becomes enslaved to the habit of smoking, it affects his health badly to the extent that it has a direct effect on his heart. As a result his heart beat and blood circulation become unstable and he experiences drowsiness from time to time due to the shrinking of his brain arteries. Sometimes, especially at an old age, a smoker suffers from high blood pressure and angina. Similarly, his digestive and respiratory systems are harmed and he loses his appetite. He is also afflicted with a kind of cough known as the smoker’s cough. When his nervous system is affected, the smoker feels a prickly sensation, numbness in his limbs and also a pain in the nerves.”

The psychological factors around nicotine addiction are thought to be more responsible than the physical factors in the difficulty in becoming nicotine-free. The first symptom one suffers during withdrawal is anxiety. This is followed by irritability, restlessness, hunger and anger.

Often, Muslims enquire whether smoking is Haraam or Makrooh. It is a popular misconception that ingesting it when it is regarded as Makrooh makes is seem more acceptable and less undesirable. But Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) advised us to leave anything which is doubtful as continuous indulgence in it poisons the heart.

Several Ulama have said that smoking is prohibited and considered Haraam. “Smoking did not exist in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) but our great religion of Islam has laid down general principles from which many laws are derived. From these principles, Muslim scholars have come to the conclusion that smoking is prohibited (Haraam). In the Qur’an, we read: “be not cast by your own hands to ruin; and do good. Lo! Allah loveth the beneficent. (Al-Baqarah:195)”.

If a smoker wants to quit, making a firm intention to stop, realising the difficulties ahead can be overcome and putting one’s trust in Allah SWT is the first step. The next step would be a change in habit. For example, if one has a group of friends who smoke together, make a choice to stay away from that environment for the time being. At a vulnerable stage, it is too easy to relapse by having “just one.”

The third step is to keep busy and improve your relationship with Allah. Often smoking is taken on as a stress reliever and to calm from anxiety. But the means adopted to end these difficulties is designed to perpetuate the cycle. There is short-lived relief or happiness before the problem is brought to the surface and craving is induced.

If one builds on their relationship with Allah SWT nothing besides the tools in Islam, such as Dua, Dhikr and Salaah can help seize difficulties – without damaging the health.